UK Regulators Ban Hemp-Infused Rum Ad Campaign

Regulators in the UK have banned a $2.56 million ad campaign for Dead Man’s Fingers, a hemp CBD-infused rum product from Cornish Rum Company that leaned on cannabis innuendos in its marketing strategies.

Full story after the jump.

The United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority has banned a $2.56 million ad campaign for a CBD-infused rum, ruling that claims made by the company were not allowed and alcohol ads cannot “link alcohol to illicit drugs.” 

The advertising for Dead Man’s Fingers hemp rum, a Cornish Rum Company brand, contained the phrase “it will quite literally blow your mind” which regulators said could “be understood as an indication that the product would change someone’s behavior or mood in the same way as cannabis.” The agency said they understood, though, that the phrase could “be understood as a term meaning to impress strongly” but its meaning was changed in context with cannabis. 

CBD is legal in the UK.

Regulators said the advertiser had a duty to “take particular care” to make sure they made no statements about CBD or hemp and the “product did not link alcohol to cannabis.” The three-ad campaign featured “a black background with neon green and pink text in a hand-painted style font,” skulls wearing cannabis leaf-adorned hats and smoking what “would be understood by consumers” to be a joint, the ruling says.

The ads also contained the word “munchies,” “chilled, man,” and “dealers wanted,” which regulators agreed with the Scottish government that they were all linked to cannabis.

“We concluded that because the ads featured imagery and wording associated with the illicit drug cannabis, the ads linked alcohol to illicit drugs and therefore breached the Code.” — ASA Ruling on the Cornish Rum Company, Ltd, Oct. 16, 2019 

The ASA ruled against the government claim that the ads appealed to youth, noting that the colors and imagery “gave each of the ads an adult tone.” Regulators did consider the language used “would be understood” by people under 18 but the ads didn’t breach the code.

The ASA said the ads “must not appear again in their current form.” According to Spirit Business, the campaign included out-of-home advertising, digital media, partnerships, events and a nationwide sampling campaign. 

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